In the mid 70's, a team of European researchers ventured off to Greenland to study the unique lifestyle of native Inuit Eskimos. They couldn't have possibly imagined how significant their findings would be. The Inuit's diet was simple and consisted primarily of fatty fish - whale, salmon, sardine, seal, and mackerel. No surprise there. What did surprise them was how unexplainably healthy they were. Healthy hearts. Clear skin. Strong joints. Positive outlooks. All this from a diet that contained ridiculous amounts of fat.
This healthy pattern of fat-fueled living bewildered researchers. That is, until the connection was made. These fatty foods were loaded with substances that the body must have in order to keep healthy - omega-3 essential fatty acids. Fast forwarding 30 years, Fish Oil supplements aren't just popular, they're nutritional threads that continue to weave the fabric of human wellness.
We refer to essential fatty acids as "essential" for a reason. They are vital to human health, despite the body's inability to manufacture its own supply. For this reason, they must be obtained through the diet or supplementation. Here's why. Fish oil contains two of the most healthy and biologically active fatty acids; EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexanoic acid) with the most common sources being deep-sea, cold-water fish.
The body is constantly repairing itself from cellular damage. In order to do this, it needs a generous supply of polyunsaturated fats capable of constructing cell membranes that are elastic, functional and strong like bull. This makes it easy for the heart to return to a normal resting state.
A deficiency in these good fats ultimately forces the body to use saturated fat for the construction of these new cells. As the amount of saturated fat begins to outnumber the unsaturated reserves, the cardiovascular process becomes more and more compromised.
In the fall of 2004, after examining years of convincing studies, the FDA approved the use of a qualified claim for omega-3 EFA. It states that "supportive but not conclusive research shows that consumption of EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease". This is especially significant when you consider how selective the FDA is in announcing qualified health claims.
The benefits of omega-3 fish oils don't stop at the cardiovascular system, however. A wealth of studies have been conducted over the past decade on their role in depression, mood, vision, skin, recovery, immune system function, pregnancy, joint health and migraines just to name a few. Let's examine some of the most influential.
Further Benefits Of Omega-3 Fish Oils
EFA For A Healthy Ticker
Omega-3 fish oil has become synonymous with cardiovascular integrity, and is supported by mountains of substantiated research. A large percentage of these studies suggest that omega-3 plays a key role in maintaining healthy cholesterol levels, normalizing blood pressure range and supporting a healthy heart beat.
It also serves as a natural blood thinner capable of preventing platelet aggregation; a condition where coronary blood flow becomes sticky and prone to clotting. Finally, fish oil has been shown to help boost HDL (good) cholesterol while lowering triglycerides levels.
A Natural Cure For The Blues?
Researchers at Harvard Medical School conducted a now famous study (Stoll et al., 1999) that has changed the way millions look at fish oil. In this double-blind, placebo controlled study, Stoll and his team determined that individuals suffering from manic and mood disorders exhibited collectively low levels of EPA and DHA.
Even more impressive, nearly 75% of the subjects treated with omega-3 experienced relief from their symptoms! According to Dr. Stoll, "Our study results indicate that fish oil does possess the elements needed to stabilize mood."
More and more individuals who live with stiff joints, inflammation and occasional aches are turning to omega-3 fish oil for relief. Within the body, DHA and EPA compounds are converted into powerful anti-inflammatory agents known as prostaglandins.
Many users have reported that supplementing with EFA has helped them reduce the frequency at which they consumed NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs).
Choosing A Quality Formula
You might want to re-think your decision to snatch up that last bottle of fish oil capsules from the discount bin at some interstate truck stop. Because when the time comes to choose, nothing is more important than selecting a quality formula, that's been tested for safety and purity.
Can't I Just Eat Fish?
Sure, go nuts. But good luck trying to determine whether or not you're getting the full gram of EFA needed to jumpstart the effects of EFA on your system.
Many species have low to moderate levels of EPA and DHA, making it very difficult to gauge how much you're actually consuming. Planning on cooking it? Then kiss a good percentage of that EFA goodbye.
High flash points and a bevy of culinary other factors can denature EFA faster than you say, "what's that smell?"